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NJ Dems: Governor Christie Pulled Transit Tunnel Numbers "Out of Thin Air"

Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 02:42 PM

(New York -- Matthew Schuerman, WNYC)  A top New Jersey Democrats says he's combed through the hundreds of pages that led Governor Chris Christie to dump the ARC train tunnel under the Hudson River and found no justification for it.

"The documents provided by the governor’s own administration fail to provide any justification for the governor’s claim of billions in cost overruns on the tunnel project," Assemblyman John Wisniewski, head of the Assembly's Transportation Committee said in a press release this afternoon. “That claim seems as though it was simply pulled out of thin air by the governor."

Wisniewski got roughly 400 pages of documents Wednesday from the governor's office through a freedom of information request. The Democrat said that three reports on cost estimates that were included state, "The overall project remains within budget," and repeat that the budget remains at $8.7 billion.

Christie, a Republican, canceled the tunnel two weeks ago, saying that internal reports pointed towards as much as $5 billion in cost overruns  and that he wasn't about to pass those costs on to New Jersey taxpayers.

Christie's office hasn't responded to a request for comment. Those wishing to pore through the documents themselves can find them on the assemblyman's web site.

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m. : Christie's office says the documents that Wisniewski reviewed are only the first batch of many that he will receive under his information request.

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Comments [2]

brucewhain

Re: 5:30 Update: Ohhh, That's Priceless!

Oct. 21 2010 06:15 PM
brucewhain

Nonetheless, NJ Transit CEO Weinstein and seven others from Port Authority and elsewhere who make up the ARC Tunnel Stearing Committee say it's going to go over budget.

It may be Christie knows more about transit planning than he's given credit for. It was Christie who badgered the Port Authority into buying the Greenville Yards in Jersey City with the aim of restoring high-volume lighter service from Manhattan for the first time in years. And Fast: by 2013. This will get a large number of trucks off the Hudson crossings and save considerable man hours, and do it quite cheaply. It may also be that he's behind getting Port Authority to buy the Bayonne Military Ocean Terminal located in the finest natural harbor in the world. This move was essential, as we have been diverting traffic to the St. Laurence and other ports by avioding using New York Harbor. These are about the only things the Port authority has done planning-wise in the past thirty years that are right. But NJ Transit is worse:

The latest environmental document on the Rube Goldberg Connecting Loop says top speed will be 30 mph. But that's on the straight part. It'll be considerably slower on the curves, especially the one right by the NE Corridor where it enters the line. What are they gonna do, put a stop sign?

Then every train's got to stop at Lautenberg Sta. anyway - or run by the platforms a low speed - unless they get platform barriers which is another half billion. Likely they'll stop, because trains from Bergen-Main and Pascack are never full like the ones on the NEC are by the time they leave Lautenberg.

Given the slowness of the loop (quite aside from the fact that it's a ludicrous idea) it should be possible to walk just as quickly in the station at certain times, and others you'll still have to make up for time lost getting to some kind of connection from 20 stories down in NY. The connecting loop will have devastating effects on both Lautenberg and Hoboken stations.

The ARC Project's 2030 projections for train capacity are not entirely unbiased: Given identical track configuration of the ARC Tunnel and the existing line, the six-track NYPSE station is said to allow 25 trains per hour at peak capacity while the 21-track Penn Station can only handle 23. (a difference of 3,000 passengers per hour.) The Penn Station Tunnel is considerably shorter, with gentler grades, and no curves.

The Regional Plan Association's figures are questionalble at best. And I don't understand why they're quoting different time savings for different stops on the same line. It should cut the same amount off of each trip on a given line. But 22 minutes difference to Montclair? Come On. They say the same thing about Raritan Valley and others. That is, different stations will have different time savings. But savings on lines to the south are dependent on Phase II of the Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement, which is scheduled for maybe never, and no number of tunnels can make up for not having at least part of the RVL electrified. Contrary to the RPA's assertions, it looks like most schedules will remain essentially the same.

Oct. 21 2010 06:13 PM

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